The end of the year and the beginning of the next is timely to reflect on your level of engagement and motivation in your current role. Are you still excited about the work or have you lost enthusiasm? Does your workload allow for a healthy work-life balance or has it become too demanding in uninteresting ways? Here are some of the questions we recommend you consider as you are reflecting on your career at the end of the year. 

One of the joys of working is being with others. Evaluate your relationships with leaders and colleagues. Do you have positive working relationships or has there been interpersonal conflict? Getting along with coworkers can significantly impact your job satisfaction. What will you commit to doing differently to improve your relationships – not having effective relationships is a two way thing. You have to do your part too.

Also, assess if there are opportunities for growth in your current position. Are there chances to take on new responsibilities, learn new skills, or earn promotions over time? Stagnating in a role long-term can breed dissatisfaction. Overall, determine your general level of job satisfaction currently. Identify the aspects you are most and least satisfied with. This will help pinpoint areas working well versus those you may want to improve or change and to discuss with your boss or team to tweak.


At Least Annually Review Your Accomplishments 

Take time to reflect on the projects you completed over the past year. Consider the core deliverables you produced, objectives you fulfilled, and goals you achieved. Make a list of your major accomplishments so you can see tangible evidence of your progress. How was your success measured? When you’re inside the pickle jar it is hard to read the label. Take time out of the pickle jar to do just that. 

What projects did you lead or contribute to in a meaningful way?

Make notes or develop a portfolio spreadsheet. List any presentations, reports, campaigns, or initiatives you drove to completion. Don’t forget to include any awards, promotions, or team or public recognition you received as well.


What new skills did you gain this year? 

List any training courses, certifications, or knowledge domains you invested time in mastering. Did you teach yourself new technical abilities, software programs, or industry best practices? Note the key areas where you expanded your capabilities and where do you intend to grow next year?.


Were you recognized with any awards or honors this year? 

Make sure to highlight any employee awards, performance bonuses, or other accolades you received. Public praise from colleagues, managers, or industry experts should also be included here.


Cataloging your major achievements will remind you of how much you’ve grown professionally over the past year. It will also identify areas where you’ve excelled and gained expertise. Use this list when updating your resume and preparing for career discussions to come. Most importantly, give yourself credit for the hard work and dedication that earned these accomplishments.


Identify Areas for Improvement  

As you reflect on the past year, consider areas where you could improve to advance your career. Identifying development areas provides focus for professional growth.  


Skills to Develop

What additional skills could help you take on new challenges or responsibilities? Look for skill gaps limiting your career potential. Consider technical expertise, soft skills like communication and leadership, or emerging skills like data analytics. Develop a plan to close these gaps through training, mentoring, or self-study.  


Time and Workload Management

Could you manage your time and workload more efficiently? Look for ways to prioritize important tasks, minimize distractions, or improve personal productivity. Consider if you take on too much and struggle with work-life balance. Finding better ways to manage your schedule allows you to focus energy on career priorities (and life ones too).


Building Your Network 

Expanding your professional network creates opportunities. Identify areas where a larger network could be beneficial, whether to find mentors, learn industry trends, or make career connections. Make relationship-building a priority in the coming year through events, informational interviews, or professional associations. Nurturing new connections advances your knowledge and possibilities for new work collaborations.


Set Goals for the Next Year

As you reflect on the past year and look ahead to the next, setting professional goals can provide valuable direction and motivation. Consider setting SMART goals in a few key areas:


1. Promotion/Salary Goals

  • Research typical responsibilities and qualifications for the next level role you want to pursue. Identify any experience or skill gaps you need to fill.
  • Have candid conversations with your manager about requirements for promotion and create a development plan. If you are the leader do you have a coach? Does your team and or board help with your ‘blind spots’?
  • Update your LinkedIn profile and resume to showcase your capabilities for a more advanced focus. Expand your network both within and outside the company.
  • During your next review, come prepared to discuss your contributions and make a case for promotion or increased compensation. Set a target salary based on market data and the value you bring to your role.


2. What would be your dream job?

  • As you reflect on your career, you may find yourself considering new positions or even new employers that better align with your goals and desired work environment. When exploring potential new roles, here are some key areas to focus on: a) where are those roles and b) what do you need to do to be considered for them? You need to become the professional you wish to be hired as…are you?


3. Desired Skills, Roles, and Industries

  • What skills have you gained in your current role that you want to continue leveraging? What new skills do you hope to use more regularly?
  • Do you want to continue on your current career path or make a pivot to something new? Consider which types of roles excite you most right now. Know that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. Weigh the devil you do know versus the devil you don’t.
  • Review job postings that interest you and make note of the qualifications, responsibilities, and skills required. Take stock of which industries have openings matching your interests and salary expectations
  • What does the labor market data say about that industry, geography both, and the future of work in that area?


4. Networking – This is a must in your goals list for next year

  • Networking is invaluable for landing new roles. Let your connections know your interests so they can share relevant opportunities.
  • Attend industry events and conferences to meet new contacts. Connect with alumni from your schools or former colleagues. 
  • Join professional associations related to your field. Follow companies you’re interested in on social media.
  • Consider informational interviews to gain insight from those already in your desired role or industry.


By thoroughly exploring new career options and clarifying the roles, companies, and industries that now appeal to you, you can determine if you’re ready to make a job change. With the right planning and preparation, you can find the opportunity that best aligns with your professional objectives.

It’s also important to acknowledge your own unique strengths, talents, and passions that energize you at work. When you align your job with what you enjoy and excel at, it leads to greater fulfillment. Reflect on the aspects of your job that motivate you and give you a sense of purpose. 

In closing, as you look ahead to the new year, feel hopeful and optimistic about the future. Set exciting new goals to keep you engaged and enthusiastic. Dream big and imagine the new heights your career could reach. With hard work and dedication, you have so much potential to develop professionally. Focus on growth, learning, and possibilities rather than perfection. Trust in yourself as you embark on a bright new year full of promise. Happy and healthy working! Be kind to yourself and others.